Medical tourism is booming in the US, and some experts are predicting a surge in new medical tourism in coming years.
But what does it mean for the country’s healthcare system?
In an article published on the BBC World Service, medical tourism expert Chris Johnson, from the University of Florida, said that in 2020, it would take almost three times as long to travel to a US state for a surgery as it did a decade ago.
He said that it is also likely to be harder for Americans to travel overseas, because they will need to have a medical visa.
In the US and Europe, Mr Johnson says, medical tourists are expected to account for a quarter of the total number of visitors to the US each year.
However, a surge of interest in the field is also expected in 2018 and 2019, when medical tourism is expected to be at its peak.
“It’s a very attractive and very lucrative industry.
It’s really about the opportunity for people to have an amazing experience and the opportunity to travel and to see other countries,” he said.”
It is very exciting and it’s going to have to grow, but it’s a long way away.”
He said it was important for Americans not to underestimate the value of medical tourism, which he said was already contributing to the healthcare system.
“If you’re in the top 10% of countries in terms of GDP, it’s worth it to be able to see another country for an hour or two and to have some medical tourism experience,” he told the BBC.
“But it’s also about the economic impact of having that experience, because it can bring more jobs and more money into the US.”
He added that in 2018, there were around 7,000 Americans who had worked in hospitals overseas and that the number was likely to continue rising.
US medical tourism industry ‘growing’US medical tourists account for more than half of the population growth in the world’s largest economy, according to the International Medical and Dental Tourism Association (IMTDA).
But experts say the US is also one of the world leaders in medical tourism.
A study by the IMTDA found that US medical tourists represented nearly two thirds of the growth in medical visitors to Europe and Asia, but they represented only 12% of the overall growth.
Immanuel Kant, who founded the IMTDA in the 19th century, said the US was one of only three countries in the developed world where medical tourism accounted for nearly all its economic growth.
“In many countries, like the UK and Canada, they are the ones that are leading the way, but the US really has the most to offer, especially in terms to the American population,” he said.
But he added that despite the boom in medical tourists, there was no guarantee the growth would continue, as it had not been long since the boom began.
According to Dr Kant, the trend was not driven by the US or Europe.
The US has been the only country to experience a huge rise in medical visits, he said, and it had become a popular destination for people from other countries who had travelled overseas.
“They [medical tourists] have been here for a long time, they have had to come here.
It’s not a new thing,” he explained.”
There’s a big gap, but in the beginning of the century, you didn’t see a big difference, but as we got better and better and more advanced, that gap is closing.”
However he said the impact of the US’s medical tourism could be seen on other parts of the globe, especially those that were developing at the time.
Dr Kant said that while it was possible that some of the people in countries like Russia and China who had never travelled overseas before were still in the process of doing so, it was also possible that many of those travellers would return home as the industry grew.
“The Chinese are coming back, and they’re coming back in droves,” he noted.
Mr Johnson also said that US tourists were becoming more educated about health care.
One of the biggest challenges for the medical tourism sector, he added, is that people are becoming more aware of the risks of the industry, but not necessarily the benefits.
“[Doctors] need to be educated about these things, so they can be confident that it’s something that they’re going to take a chance on,” he advised.
And while many doctors and hospital staff have expressed concern about the health impact of medical tourists in the past, there are signs that the industry is being put on more of a positive and positive light.
There has been a recent increase in visits to US hospitals for the operation of a pacemaker, which has resulted in an increase in hospital admissions.
Many hospitals have also been looking for ways to reduce the number of patients in their hospitals, in order to improve the quality of care.
Dr Johnson said the increased number of medical travellers was one area in which the US had